There are two general categories of herbs that are used reflecting two strategies:
1. To increase the body’s ability to adapt to and handle stress using those herbs called ‘adaptogens’ or tonic herbs in the TCM system.
2. To calm and soothe the nerve/brain systems and deepen sleep to improve rest and prevent stress overflow into the following day.
Some herbs have qualities of both. I have listed them in bold.
Adaptogens and Tonic Herbs
Russian and western research applies the term ‘adaptogen’ to herbs like Siberian Ginseng that build up the body’s strength and stamina. These herbs are actually far more numerous than what western research has validated as adaptogenic. The traditional breakdown in TCM includes Tonic Herbs in the categories of blood, yin, yang, and energy tonics. All these herbs can be helpful in dealing with both physical and psychological stress.
Strong energy tonics: Siberian Ginseng, Asiatic and American Ginseng, Maca, Suma, Licorice;
Moderate tonics: Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma), Astragalus, Atractylodes, Dioscorea (yam), Elecampane root, Poria cocos.
Strong/stimulating: Deer antler, Garlic, Psoralea seed, Epimedium (horny goat weed);
Moderate: Damiana, Muira-puama, Celery seed, Saw Palmetto, Teasel root, Dadder seed, Ashwagandha root (sedative, yang/blood tonic).
These are generally more appropriate for men or those with immune/growth deficiencies.
Dong Quai, Rehmannia root (processed), Lycium (Goji) berries, Mulberries, Huckleberries, Dark Grapes, Blackberries, Raspberries, Gelatin, Blackstrap Molasses, Black Sesame seeds. These tend to be more appropriate for those with anemia, serious hormone deficiencies or reproductive problems, diabetes, degenerative diseases.
Warming: Schizandra (astringent, sedative), Valerian, Amber powder;
Cooling: Hops, Skullcap, California Poppy, Passion flower, Wood Bentony, Chamomile flower, Lemon Balm, Calcium.
A good strategy for dealing with stress is to find a suitable herb from each category, find an adequate dose and appropriate time of day and continue until they are no longer needed. Obviously there are a lot of choices and each herb has its particular benefits that match particular people/constitutional types. Send me an e-mail or give me a call for more information about what herbs may be most suitable to you. I do very affordable consults that put together herbal programs based on what is right for you.